Animal rights group presses Army on wild horse roundups

by By JANET MCCONNAUGHEY as published in Stars and Stripes

Animal rights advocates want a federal court to make an Army base in western Louisiana stop rounding up hundreds of wild horses on land it owns or uses…

Horses graze in front of an armored Humvee at Fort Polk, La., on Sept. 20, 2014. Animal rights advocates want a federal court to make an Army base in Louisiana stop rounding up hundreds of wild horses on land it owns or uses. Court papers filed on Jan. 8, 2018, say Fort Polk began escalating efforts in November and may be trying to eliminate the herds before a judge can decide whether the roundups are legal. WILLIAM GORE/U.S. ARMY

Fort Polk began escalating efforts in November, and some captured horses are treated poorly and many may be slaughtered, the Pegasus Equine Guardian Association said in court papers backing up its request for a preliminary injunction.

People and groups that might adopt the horses, “are being arbitrarily rejected and removed from the potential adopter list, increasing the likelihood that ‘kill buyers’ will be able to acquire the horses,” the association wrote.

Justice Department spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle said in an email that the department cannot comment on pending litigation.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen Kay scheduled a hearing Jan. 30 in Lake Charles.

The association sued the Army and Fort Polk’s commanding officer in December 2016 over plans to get rid of about 700 “trespass horses” the Army considers a safety risk in training areas.

Most of the horses are on about 48,000 acres (19,400 hectares) in the Kisatchie National Forest — part of 90,000 acres (36,400 hectares) of forest land that the base uses for training, U.S. Forest Service spokesman Jim Caldwell has said.

The Army has lists of tax-exempt rescue groups and people interested in taking the horses. Its plan calls for notifying them after roundups of up to 30 horses. Any rescue group unable to take every horse from one roundup is struck from the list. Individuals who can’t pick up the number of horses they commit to within five days also are removed.

The horses have been there for decades, possibly more than a century. Some people speculate that the herds are descended from Army cavalry horses. Monday’s court filing, however, asserts the horses have roamed the area at least since the early 1800s. Fort Polk was founded in 1941.

Some look like descendants of horses acquired by Choctaw Indians from Spanish colonists, according to a letter from Jeannette Beranger, senior programs manager of The Livestock Conservancy, filed in the court record.

Some horses from isolated areas should get a closer look, which might prompt DNA tests to see if they are “Choctaw horses” or similar strains, wrote Phillip Sponenberg, a professor at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, in another document filed Monday. He said such horses would be valuable for conservation.

In a another court document, Jeff Dorson, head of the Humane Society of Louisiana, said he received complaints this month from tipsters who aren’t Pegasus officers about inhumane treatment of the horses.

Pegasus has received other allegations that “current contractors or subcontractors are not treating the horses humanely, failing to provide adequate and non-moldy hay and sufficient clean food and water, using inhumane round-up techniques, or engaging in practices that will favor moving the horses to kill buyers over animal welfare organizations or humane adopters,” the organization said.

One contractor or subcontractor, Jacob Thompson, “has been in legal trouble with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture, State of Texas, and State of Oklahoma for abuse, theft or other violations involving livestock,” according to Pegasus’ filing.

Thompson was fined $3,150 on Friday for violating five Louisiana regulations including selling livestock without a permit, Veronica Mosgrove, spokeswoman for the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, said in an email. She said his only state-licensed business is Thompson Horse Lot. The lot’s Facebook page states that it’s in Pitkin, which is near Fort Polk.

A call to the number on Thompson Horse Lot’s Facebook page was answered by a man who said, “We’re not interested in no press.” The man said he was not Jacob Thompson and hung up when asked his name.

https://www.stripes.com/news/army/animal-rights-group-presses-army-on-wild-horse-roundups-1.505920

Update on Fort Polk’s Move to Eliminate More Free Roaming Wild Horses

Update on Fort Polk’s Move to Eliminate More Free Roaming Wild Horses

For Immediate Press Release
Fort Polk, Louisiana

Despite public outcry and a lawsuit through Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, the U.S. Army at Fort Polk is continuing to allow removal of the free roaming horses (many generationally wild ) from the areas at Fort Polk, where they have lived (along with other wildlife) for many years. Recently, at least 18 more wild horses were captured.

Click below for a detailed explanation of  U.S. Army’s Course of Action 7: U.S. Army’s Removal Plan Designed to Benefit the Kill Buyer COA 7

The Army at Fort Polk can build elaborate corral systems and call folks from their “list” to haul these free roaming horses to the unknown, (some to auction stockyards and sold for meat price for purposes of slaughter in Mexico). The U.S. Army at Fort Polk can and should do the right thing and have them relocated to a safer area on adjacent lands that have nothing to do with the Army or training area or protected from removal.

The Army’s plan to “eliminate” these horses must be stopped until a solution can be put into place that considers the long term welfare of Louisiana’s Heritage Horses. There are close to 400,000 plus acres that are not owned or managed by the army, on USFS managed lands, that these migratory heritage animals could be relocated to and protected from exploitation.

Click here to read more about The Historical Importance of The Wild and Free Roaming Horses of Fort Polk… 

Read more about the lawsuit here: Lawsuit filed to protect Louisiana’s Wild Horses

Historically, wild or un-handled horses in the hands of the public (including some 501c3’s) equal disaster. A 501c3 designation does not mean anti-slaughter and it does not guarantee the horses safety nor their well-being, nor does “non-discriminatory give-away” of horses to the “interested public”.  Also these 501c3’s may not have the sustainable ability nor intent to feed and care for wild or un-handled horses long term.  Non profits depend on donated money to function and 501c3 designation does not necessarily mean they have the resources and expertise required to safely house, handle, and safely adopt/sell un-handled/wild horses to the general public.

Because of this, there are both animal and social welfare/safety implications with the Army’s chosen and intentional actions. This is arguably evidenced by a previous 501c3’s inability to disclose their whereabouts or to safely handle and adopt out at least some of the horses removed last year.

Read more about the implications of wild horses in the hands of 501c3’s and the general public here: PURPOSE AND OBJECTIVES of Pegasus Equine Guardian Association

Read more about horse slaughter here: For Horse Lovers Everywhere: The Truth About Horse Slaughter

Contact information for the Ft. Polk Public Affairs Office is:
7073 Radio Rd, Fort Polk, LA 71459
Phone: (337) 531-1418
Fax: (337) 531-6014
eMail: usarmy.polk.imcom.mbx.pao-public-response@mail.mil

**For Record, we ask that any communication sent to Fort Polk, regarding these horses, also be sent to: kisatchiehorses@gmail.com

Also please reach out to our Congress people to express your personal concern regarding the welfare of these horses. 

1.) Billy Nungesser , As Lt Governor, State Parks and Tourism fall under his rule. 
FB page: https://www.facebook.com/BillyNungesserPage/
Email: ltgov@crt.la.gov
Twitter: @BillyNungesser
Phone: (225) 342-1949

2.) Mike Strain – LA Ag Commissioner, USFS , USDA
Email: commissioner@ldaf.state.la.us
FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/DoctorStrain/
https://m.facebook.com/DoctorMikeStrain
Phone: 225.922.1234

3.) John Bel Edwards, Louisiana Governor
Twitter @JohnBelForLA
EMAIL: edwardsj@legis.la.gov
https://m.facebook.com/pages/John-Bel-Edwards-for-Louisiana/497483806955179
(985)748-2245

4.) LA-5 Ralph Abraham 202-225-8490
https://abraham.house.gov/contact

5.) LA-4 John Fleming 202-225-2777
https://fleming.house.gov/contact/contactform.htm

VIEW THE LAWSUIT HERE.

Contact Information

Amy Hanchey, President
Pegasus Equine Guardian Association
PO Box 82564
Lafayette, La 70598
Phone: (337) 739-0036
Email: admin@pegasusequine.org
Machelle Lee Hall, La. Bar 31498

6329 Freret Street
New Orleans, LA 70118-6321
Phone: (504) 862-8819
Fax: (504) 862-8721
Email: mhall@tulane.edu
Counsel for Pegasus Equine Guardian Association